Photo: Abigail Green / The Daily Gamecock

Gamecocks beat the Razorbacks and advance to SEC Championship for the first time since 2001

After throwing six scoreless innings yesterday, ace Cayla Drotar was scheduled to start again on Friday, but was scratched late to what ESPN first called “back spasms” and then later changed to “back stiffness” that occurred while she was warming up. However no official diagnosis was given by South Carolina.

Junior Dixie Raley made the start instead and pitched five straight scoreless innings which helped the Gamecocks en route to a 3-1 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks, propelling them into the SEC tournament championship game for the first time since 2001.

Raley pitched a complete game while allowing just one run on five hits. She struck out seven and 66 of her 109 pitchers were strikes. 

South Carolina managed to get out to an early 1-0 lead in the second inning. Not only did the Gamecocks make history, Jana Johns broke the school record for times being hit by a pitch. She then came around to score on a Kenzi Maguire's single. 

In the fourth inning, Johns added to her record by being hit again before Tiara Duffy homered to left field to give the Gamecocks a 3-0 lead. Duffy’s home run was number 61 on the year for the Gamecocks, which was another new school record for South Carolina to claim. 

With the win, the Gamecocks improve to 45-13, and will face the winner of Florida/Tennessee for the SEC championship Saturday at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.

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